Survey Says….Warning! This week’s  USC survey  of relative happiness levels had good news and bad for midlife women. Women tend to be happier, even past 40. But just when we can see 50 coming, the streams cross and it’s men on top, reports CBS News’ Cynthia Bowers.

The study, which analyzed data from 47,000 people, considered happiness levels of men and women. It found in their 20s, women are happier than men. Researchers blame that on young men’s lackluster love lives and low-paying first jobs, Bowers reports. The gap closes with age – and by 48, men are happier. The study suggests it’s because by then men are married and better off financially.

But the actual survey the study was based on was headed up by Tom Smith at the University of Chicago. It only asked women how happy they are, and just like a lot of men, didn’t bother to ask them why.

“We think we have a good understanding of why women start off happier – they make that transition to adulthood much easier than men,” Smith said. “Uh, it’s less clear why they lose the advantage over men.”

In a personal observation, Bowers had her own thoughts on the matter: “Hello … it’s because we hit 48! Not only are we raising kids, and worrying about aging parents, we’re worrying about aging us. All the sudden we realize that even with Botox, and body shapers, we’ll never look like we used to.”

Canadian researcher Anke Plagnol, who co-authored the study, told the Windsor Star frankluy, if a touch bleakly: “Aspirations of men and women are similar later in life but women attain less.”

First the financial checkup. Then the massage. “Now that I’ve had my cardio check up, I thought it was time to have a financial check up,” writes Judi Freedman at A Baby Boomer Woman’s Life After 50. After doing her best to avoid the malaise reported in the above survey, Freedman adds that she brought as many questions to her financial adviser as she would to any doctor:

I’m resourceful. I told myself. I can find a good financial advisor. And so I did. Then I went about doing my homework (boy, did it take time to compile all my assets and boy, did it take even longer time to compile all my spending…before I had a financial advisor I never bothered adding up all of my spending…it was a shocking experience)….

I was nervous…I was scared…actually almost frightened to hear what he had to say about my future financial status.

Will I be able to get my facials when I retire? Will I be able to afford to buy my Activa yogurt when I retire…the yogurt that keeps getting more expensive every time I go to the grocery store? And what about the occasional bag of peanut M&Ms that I like? (I know I’m not supposed to eat these high fat treats since I have to watch my cholesterol and fat content…but they are treats.)

Will I be able to keep my ‘condo on the corner’ at the shore when I retire? So many ‘will I’ questions to think about…or worry about. (“Practice using mindfulness,” I said to myself. “Stop worrying about the future…stay in the present.”)

I sat and listened intently as my financial advisor mapped out a variety of scenarios…if I retire at 55…if I don’t…if I retire at 60…if I don’t…if I save more money…if I work after my retirement…if I buy long term care insurance…if I don’t…if I manage my 40lK properly…if I buy tax-free bonds…if I consider the impact of inflation…the list just kept getting longer and longer as he turned each page in my portfolio. “Oh my, oh my,” I started to gasp as my menopausal hot flashes started to soar.

This financial checkup was weighing heavy on my heart after the two hours were up. I felt like I had just done a cardio workout in addition to a financial check up.(I wonder if this check up will help me lower the level of plaque build up in my arteries). “Look over everything and call me with any questions,” said my financial advisor.

“Yes, yes, I will,” I replied as I headed out the door. I had hardly eaten all day and was in great need of a large dose of protein to satisfy my empty stomach and a good massage to relax my body and shore up my soul.

Dick Morris On Older Women?? In Tuesday’s issue of The Hill, former Bill Clinton adviser and Fox News commentator  Dick Morris analyzes the latest polls, saying that “For a Democrat to be losing among women over 40 is without precedent in the past 20 years.”

If soccer moms determined the outcome of the 1996 presidential race and security moms tipped the balance in 2004, it is beginning to look as if older moms are the key to the 2008 contest. Obama has a problem among women over 40 and a big problem among women over 50. These groups, normally the staunchest of Democratic supporters, are showing a propensity to back McCain and a disinclination to support Obama.

According to the latest Fox News survey, Obama is winning among women under 40 by 13 points, but McCain is winning among women aged 41-45 by four points. Among women 50 and over, McCain is three points ahead. Obama’s 48-35 lead among women under 40 is normal for a Democrat, but to trail among women in their 40s by 45-41 and by women over 50 by 38-35 is extraordinary.

The problem is that older women don’t like Obama as much as younger women do. While 70 percent of women under 40 have a favorable opinion of the Democratic candidate, only 58 percent of women in their 40s feel the same way, and only 52 percent of those over 50 see him favorably.

In fact, the gap between male and female voting preference in this election is far lower than it normally is. Among people under 40, men back Obama by eight points and women support him by 13. Among those in their 40s, men back McCain by 11 points and women support him by four. And for those over 50, men vote for the Republican by a nine-point margin while women prefer him by three points……. The lower gap in this race does not indicate any special popularity for McCain or negatives on Obama among men. Men are voting the way they usually do. It’s women who are making the big difference and keeping this race tied.

… A bigger problem [than previous support for Hillary] may be a cultural alienation older white women feel toward Obama. The Rev. Jeremiah Wright may linger as a worry in their increasingly gray heads as they contemplate an Obama presidency. This fear of the unknown and the gap they seem to feel with Obama is so strong that it is overcoming their normal proclivity to back Democrats.

By Chris Lombardi

Join the conversation

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  • Dr. Pat Allen August 4, 2008 at 12:27 pm

    This study that shows that women over 50 are less happy than men, but did not ask for the reasons is hardly valid. We do not know if these women were largely single, if they were healthy, if they were financially responsible not only for themselves but parents and children, if they were healthier or not than the men…PULEEZE. What kind of study is this?
    Let’s face it, we are in the most dire economic situation in our country since we came of age. After the endless Age of Prosperity ended abruptly last year, women over 50 have been downsized and part-timed in far greater numbers than their age and profession matched male peers. Many women who used a company retirement plan or a 401-K have seen the value of their retirement safety erode. At 50 many women were used to planning for the next stage of life with some financial security. Now many women this age realize that they must work into their 70’s just to cover basic living expenses. Many were part of the “owing a home for investment purposes” madness and understand clearly that they could also lose their home.
    Happiness would mean insanity in this case.